Monday, December 04, 2006

A jar of nothing

The ruins loomed at the edge of a sprawling, self-similar suburb. Boxy three-bedrooms painted in the same shades of rust, grey and olive marched endlessly away in all directions from the massive and crumbling edifice of red bricks.

Like a factory out of the world wars, the building looked like a cross between a fortress and a red stone steamship. Three majestic smokestacks rose from behind the shabby facade. The roofline was crenellated with age, looking as though the place had been bombed out. The bricks had fallen in large bites to the rubble and debris below over many years. This exposed the bones of the old building, iron girders bracketing fragments of nighttime sky.

I slipped between two identical houses through dewy grass and up the embankment behind. There was a sagging chainlink fence haphazardly thrown around the property, but even this token gesture lay flat against the rubble where it sagged too far between bent poles. I stepped over it at one of these places and easily hopped the low concrete wall within.
I could smell wood smoke and hear a low radio within the abandonment. As my questing eye scanned the brick edifice I caught flickers of light across some high girders, a fire burned somewhere inside. This was certainly the place I was supposed to go, that was sure. It was a particularly singular structure, and the signs of occupation were also familiar. I was in the right place. I followed the wall until I found a door frame, and there I entered a open roofed hallway.

This place had been very large, but was divided into many halls and rooms with more of the same red brick as the streetside facade had been. The floor was dirt in most places, cracking tile in others. Along the edges of the hall little weeds and small grasses fought for a scraggly existence. The outer walls were easily 40 feet tall, but the inner walls were of varied height. Some was of sheetrock and paper, others of cinderblock, plywood and more brick. They were all incomplete. Each had holes a man could walk through and edges worn down. There was no place you couldn't see some bit of the open sky. At fairly regular intervals there were barrels, half full of burning bramble and paper trash.

This story continues here...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A panic on campus

A decision needed to be made, now is the time for something to be done.

I stood in the center of a wide, circular, concrete plaza. I had the feeling that this was a high-school, but it could have been a junior college of some sort. This pristine expanse of variegated grey was broken only by precisely geometric section lines. From the sky I bet it looked like a compass. Nary a weed or scrap of litter in sight. At the cardinal points of this quad area were the corners of four tallish buldings. Four stories of smooth cement broken only by a single band of tall windows for each floor. These windows were all a surreal blue to gold to white gradient like in a marker renderings or a cheap color manga.

The sky was blue, the midday sun white and high. I was just getting to wondering where everyone was when I remembered the Decision. The president was to make a speech today, about this time in fact. The soundbite taken from the last press conference with the guy leapt into my mind "A decision needed to be made, now is the time for something to be done."

But I didn't remember what the issue was, really not at all. Maybe the president would enact a new law, or announce a war. It must have been something important for literally everyone to be inside watching. I thought I might just go into one of these buildings where the people were at this very moment undoubtedly watching such a momentous announcement and see for myself.
Apparently I missed the president’s speech.

This story continues here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Chambers beneath the desert

The high, smooth concrete walls sent our footsteps echoing all the way up to the vaulted ceilings 50 or more feet above our heads. My companion was tall and thin, dark eyed and with curled dark hair that fell between her proud shoulders to the middle of her back. I had never been in this complex, deep beneath the California desert, but my friend wanted a guide with some actual drain time under his belt, and I was the only one she knew.
We had been walking an hour or so before the walls opened into this vault. It was huge and well lit by sodium arc lamps on 15-foot squared steel posts. Conduit, steam pipes and industrial hose snaked across the walls and floor in a baffling network of rusty iron and dingy accordians of yellow rubber. This was unlike any storm-drain I had visited before, and I told the girl as much...

This story is continued here

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The continuing adventures of TCP are not here

They're Here.

Hope to see you sometime.

(I'll post teasers here, if you like them, follow that linky to a place where I don't end in mid-)

The Ranch House Murder

It started as a relatively mundane experience. While I had never been in this house before, it was familiar enough, a classic california ranch style with bright midday sun streaming through the open parallel blinds. The girl wasn't there, and I'd be damned if I could remember who she was, but there was an implicit urgency palpable in the humid air that I protect her.

I was armed, I realized. The weight of the small firearm unbalanced my leather, pulling it in an awkward way down my left side. I shifted the coat on my shoulders to enable free movement through the hall.

It was then that I realized she had killed him, she was perfectly justified in doing so, he deserved every blow she had bestowed on his skull. He was violent and resentful. I couldn't recall his face, but that was hardly my concern as I had never even seen him before. She would be back soon to ask me what we would do next. I assumed she was disposing of the body, maybe trying to do some shopping in the lull before her crime was discovered. I decided it would be best if I closed all of the window coverings, that way no neighbor or passerby would see me in the house. Hopefully it would be assumed that no-one was home. I didn't live there anyway, there was no reason to assume I was there.

I moved room to room, trying to be quick, but quiet, and slid each set of blinds closed with a quick jerk of the cord. I looked out each from the side as I did, just to verify that no-one was watching that given window at just that moment. No-one was. The hot southern California day went on unabated.

The last shade drawn, I went into the bathroom to piss. It was cool and shadowed now. I left the door open, thought about taking a nap or looking for something interesting to read on the computer. I finished up and began to walk through the house to the kitchen. Standing on the dingy yellow country kitsch linoleum I was thinking about getting a glass of water when, in one quiet dilation, the shades opened up through out the house. Each overlapped scale swiveled upward in one smooth motion to let the sun and glare pour through my refuge. I was startled, I admit. I caught my breath, my hand moving to the pistol I carried in my inner jacket pocket.

I stepped as lightly as possible to the pass-through that separated the kitchen from a breakfast nook off of the main hallway of the house and, not knowing why, I held the pistol in my hand like a cop on TV. There was no sound but the cicadas declaiming the heat outside, but I knew there was someone in here with me now. I thought to flee out the kitchen door to the back yard, but hesitated, what if the other heard the door and pursued? What if there was another lying in wait outside? Heart pounding, I moved into the hallway and searched with all of my senses for evidence of the intruder.

He stood at the end of the hall, at the top of a small step-down that led into the family room of the house. His back was facing me, and I could see the large television set and bookcases past him against the wall. He was looking from the head of the short steps out the window, through the open blinds. He had short brown hair and a tan sportcoat. It could have been suede, though it was likely just that heavy soft textured cloth that men wore in the 70's. His hair was cropped short, but not militarily styled. He was law, of that I was sure. A detective at least, he was there looking for me.

I took a deep breath and levelled the silver pistol at the smooth fabric of the man's coat-back. It was clear what needed to be done, but I wasn't happy with the prospect. I was here to protect the girl, not to murder policemen, but I would be guilty by association if I was caught here. It was a certainty that I would be culpable for the girl's actions. Had she been apprehended? Was this the vanguard of a larger force clued to come pick me up by a confession? It was perhaps too soon for that, perhaps not, but the situation would brook no hesitation. I had to act.

I pulled the trigger quickly three times. It clicked dully with each pull, no kick, no expected explosion, no bullets fired. The man didn't even turn as I lowered the gun with a soft sigh of relief. Only a test. It had to have been. A trial of my resolve, a probe of my will. I turned and walked out the side door to the back yard and beyond to the side gate and the suburban street outside, the man still unaware of my presence.

I awoke.